Sunday, September 12, 2010

Measuring Success

  Today is the day of the St. Mary Fall Festival. Yes, it is still summer, but some other committee picks the date of the festival. I thought about suggesting changing the name to the Almost Fall Festival, but decided to hold my tongue for a change.

  As I’ve written before, I’ve been the chair person of the festival committee the last 3 years by appointment after I was late to the first meeting. I learned from running chess tournaments that the management style that suits me personally is to personally and quickly take responsibility for the hardest tasks or the tasks that the other people don’t want to do, assign other tasks to capable people, let them do their jobs without micro-managing, and have as little to do as possible with people who want to help by telling you what you are doing wrong.

  This year’s festival planning was almost effortless. The same group has been together for 3 years and knows what to do and how to stay out of each other’s way. I’ve just been marking the completed tasks off on my little list, passing it out to the committee members, and writing announcements and calling some of the volunteers. Today I'll be handling the money outside for the second year in a row. It was easily the most complained about job 2 years ago, so I told everyone that that would be my job from now on. Then if anyone else complained, I could offer to trade jobs.

  The first year the festival raised $9,000, but after the festival, we were told that the church finance committee had budgeted for $11,000 so we were all disappointed. Since I did not make a budget, I shouldered the blame for this failure. The second year I asked what the festival had been budgeted to make and was told $14,000. In our committee meetings, I made sure to ridicule this budget number as much as possible and stress that we should not tether the success or failure of our efforts to some number on a piece of paper. We had a very well run festival and made $11,000 to boot. I considered it a success but not because of the money that was raised, but because we had a well run festival.

  This year, I didn’t even ask what the budget number was. One of the committee members mentioned last week that we had to make more money than last year. I’m not sure what number we will raise for this year’s festival. A lot depends on how much money the auction will bring in, but I expect to come very close to last year’s numbers. When I agreed to serve on the committee, I committed to 3 years and this is year 3. In my mind, the festival is already successful, regardless of whatever today’s chaos of ‘game day’ bring. It may even be a favor to the next group of committee members to fall a little short in the money raising department to give them an easier act to follow.

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